Friday, January 25, 2008

State Appropriations Up 4.94% A Year Since 1997

By Richard Vedder

Illinois State University's annual survey of state appropriations for higher education reveal that the 2008 figure is the highest in the past 11 years (and perhaps longer --that is all the data included in INSIDE HIGHER ED's report). Legislators are dropping money out of airplanes again over campuses --with predictable effects, most not positive.

I calculated the annual compounded rate of increase in state appropriations since 1997 was 4.94 percent --above the rate of inflation and population growth in the same period. But to hear state university presidents tell it, the problem of soaring tuition costs is the cause of soaring tuition rates.

Tuition this year is up 7 percent --appropriations are up 7 percent --inflation is one half of that. The story of higher education in America today. Nothing has changed. Legislators don't demand accountability, transparency, evidence of student progress, rate of the return analysis of university research, etc., etc. We are throwing money down a rat hole --and the rats are loving it.

As long as money is dropped out of airplanes in increasing amounts over campuses with little accountability, there are no incentives for universities to grow up, to rationalize, to economize. The economic rents keep accumulating and the students keep paying out more and more --more a product that’s value derives largely from the information costs employers face in learning about the true capabilities of their applicants. The diploma is worth hundreds of thousands --but is the education behind it truly that valuable?

19 comments:

sciencedoc said...

What a poor excuse for an economist this guy is. Of course expenditures grow faster than "inflation + population". It's called the real growth of the economy. OK, denigrate university research, call the university people "rats". Don't need all those Nobel prizes here in America, they will be moving offshore soon enough, I suspect.

I think the real rat is right under our nose.

Bob Yates said...

Of course this is only an average. In Missouri, state spending increased about 4% which still does not get higher education funding back to the same level it was in 2002.

If I understand our distinguished economist host correctly, this should be a good thing for Missouri. Of course, Missouri has one of the highest unemployment rates of all the states that surround it.

sciencedoc said...

Oh, Bob, haven't they figured out there in Missouri that they don't need no edjication to get a good job? Didn't Missouri produce Mark Twain, Harry Truman, Charlie Parker? Those guys did pretty good, right? And how much college did they have?

Bob Yates said...

And, our gracious host here gets money from a bazillionaire to write papers that argue the baziallionaire shouldn't have to pay any taxes.

It sure is nice to get paid by the very rich to produce arguments why they should not have to pay taxes.

Chris said...

I guess if I spent a lifetime inside a 3rd tier, also ran, non-flagship state school whose collective culture, personality and soul are fueled by delusions of grandeur (that outsiders never manage to recognize) combined with seething jealousy and bitterness over being passed over a 140 years ago for flaghip status by the state's political and business leadership, in favor of a younger university, I too might believe that state funds for higher education are worthless.

What do we have in Ohio U? The older brother who is judged as unfit for the leadership role in the family. The decision is made by the leadership (Rutherford B. Hayes and the state leadership of the 1860s) to pass him over for th leadership role and found a new university to act as flagship (Ohio State). Forced to watch his younger brother put in charge, physically isolated from the family's center of power and given secondary tasks, OU seethes in jealousy and bitterness over these decisions. In the 1960s, Ohio U, along with the other older, passed over brother (Miami of Ohio), make their move to reclaim the throne with the help of a politically powerful enemy of the younger brother (Gov. Jim Rhodes). While their effort disrupts the younger brother's affairs temporarily, their plotting ultimately fails, and they are dealt with (Ohio's current higher education restructuring).

I know that there has to be a perfect metaphor in popular culture for Ohio U. and Miami of Ohio--perhaps a fictional character, but I just can't think of whom.

sciencedoc said...

Bob: It's really ironic, isn't it? Our gracious host refers to academic scientists who get government grants as "whores". He denigrates academic research. He refers to academicians as "rats". But he managed to publish several books as a professor became a "Distinguished Professor" at his also-ran campus, and in retirement has gone on to a second career biting the hand that fed him so well. I guess he doesn't count as one of the rats or whores.

Chris: I don't know the politics of Ohio public higher education that well, except that I have high regard for Ohio State. Whether being at an apparently strange place like Ohio University has helped give our host his warped view of the universe, I can't say. However, inasmuch as this is not a criminal proceeding, I see no reason to give any thought to possible extenuating circumstances.

maxheadroom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maxheadroom said...

The three of you, by default, take quite unprincipled, thoughtless positions in favour of mediocrity and the status quo – high costs, out of control tuition costs, and so forth. In my estimation, you are all part of the system that fleeces middle-class America without any conscious.

Indeed Chris, your words read like ten of the most stupid and arrogant people I have ever come across. Is it possible that you did not succeed in your attempt to graduate from OU? You rail against, not Richard Vedder, but the people of Ohio University. All those that have graduated and gone on to live good lives. All of the hardworking individuals and professors at OU – not unlike Richard Vedder. And then there are those, not unlike anywhere else that are boat anchors, living on the OU welfare entitlement program who get paid for coming to work. Maybe we should call them incessant rent seekers.

You call OU an “also ran”. Please substantiate you comment or let it be seen for what it is. As you might say, “A drive-by ad hominem attack.” What about the countless other schools in the States that compare with OU? That is all the time you are worth.

Sciencedoc, you seem to be disagreeable just to be disagreeable. I have read most of Richard Vedder’s past blogs and you have never had anything good to mention. Furthermore, you seem to want people to believe that you are a sophisticated educationalist, but you never offer any worthwhile ideas yourself. That’s all that need be said in your regard.

Bob Yates, you refer to Richard Vedder as “Our gracious host”, which on its face sounds quite stupid and presents us with a dichotomy of sorts. If I were to go to a gathering and found that everything the host said was distasteful or offensive, I do not believe that I or any sensible individual would refer to the host as “gracious”. You are ten of the dumbest people I have come across.

I also see attempts by sciencedoc to undermine Richard Vedder’s credibility by claiming that since he was (and is) a part of the system at which he is throwing rocks, his message cannot be valid. I couldn’t disagree more. Being a part of a seriously flawed system provides one with first-hand knowledge of exactly what the flaws are.

I do not always agree with Richard Vedder. Indeed, in a previous post I asked the question, “What is CCAP doing to improve the world of higher education?” And I proclaimed that positive change could not be brought about on “blogspot.com” and a web based storefront. Not long after that, I received a copy of the “Washington Post” and found an excellently authored column on higher education by Richard Vedder. I do not believe that my disparagement (meant to be motivation) inspired the article. But I do believe it was a step in the right direction – which will apparently be followed up by a conference… another step in the right direction. I hope to see more of this from Richard Vedder and his team at CCAP.

What have the three of you done to make our world a better place? And just for the record, you don’t make the world a better place through the use of uncivilized vitriol while hiding behind the veneer of anonymity. This is one of the terrible consequences of the internet. I suspect any replies will only validate my observations.

Well, when Richard Vedder’s grandchildren sit on his knee and asks, “What did you do for a living Grandfather?” At least he won’t have to say, “I shoveled shit on the internet.”

sciencedoc said...

Max: You said in your gracious post that I was not worth coming back to, but then you did, so I will come back to you.

No, I don't have much good to say about a guy who calls people like me "rats" and "whores". And I don't feel motivated to present any constructive ideas I might have at a site like this. My interest in it is purely its destructiveness and nihilism.

As for whether Richard Vedder is a phony -- yeah, I think so. He denigrates university research, but that didn't stop him from writing his own (pretty crummy in my estimation) books when he was employed as a professor. He calls academics rats and whores, but that didn't stop him from accepting a "distinguished professor" position (or the like, I don't remember the exact title) before he retired. I would be more impressed if he had made his discovery of how corrupt things are 20 years ago.

Chris said...

I too don't feel the need in any way to raise the level of discourse on this board, and obviously being one of the ten dumbest people who've you've met on the internet, could doubtfully do so in any event.

Unlike Sciencedoc, I am not an academic. I am, however, highly interested and vested in higher education issues and write a series of substantial checks each year to endowed academic funds at both my undergraduate and graduate alma maters (both AAU universities; one public and one private), including a memorial fellowship fund in the name of my undergraduate advisor. Having been a first generation college student, I also feel that I owe an incredible amount to these schools and a system, which despite its flaws (and Richard Vedder's ankle-biting) remains the gold standard higher education system for the world.

As such, I see no possible reason to debate respectfully with a man who refers to his professional betters as "rats" and "whores."

I see no possible reason to debate respectfully with a self-professed conservative who argues that the levers of federal government power and the tax code should be used to enforce "institutional equality." Does that sound like conservative philosophy (I'm liberal by the way) or does it sound like typical Ohio U. nonsense--"whhaaaa, whhhhaaaa we don't have a billion dollar endowment, so let's punish those universities whose alumni have been able to build one." While we're at it, maybe we could also use government power to force some National Academy members to relocate to Athens because it's soooo unfair that Ohio U. can not attract ANY on its own merits while over 30 work up the road in Columbus.

I see no possible reason to debate respectfully with a man who, despite his professed goals of increasing socio-economic diversity on American campuses holds up Miami of Ohio as "one of America's finest public universities." Huhhhh? A school that has virtually no socio-economic or racial diversity? A school that despite ranking lower than Ohio State across the board, offering virtually no research and considerably lower faculty salaries manages to charge far, far higher tuition (remember state subsidies are the same for both schools)? That's the model for Vedder's dream of public higher education: an overgrown prep school?

I see no possible reason to debate respectfully with a man who would eliminate all state and federal funding for higher education and leave first generation, lower income college students (as I once was) to the whims and mercies of a modern day indentured servitude system run by corporations.

I see no possible reason to debate respectfully with a man who's simply putting an academic gloss on a rather odd combination of self-serving right wing tax policies and government enforced qualitative "leveling" no doubt resulting from Ohio U's lingering bitterness over decisions made in the 1860s.

As for Ohio U, I don't disrespect the students and alumni who've passed through there. I do disrespect an institution that can't let the past go nor accept its designated role in the system but rather seems to be on a never ending crusade to reclaim some misty, rose colored vision of a glorious past which never existed in the first place and is willing to weaken the entire Ohio public university system in the process rather than accept its somewhat less than illustrious history and the reasons for its present stature.

Chris said...

As for comparing Ohio U. to Fredo Corleone, that'll never end. The analogy is just too perfect, too damned funny and more clever than "rat" or "whore." FredOU.

sciencedoc said...

Chris: Appreciate your fine words about your college and graduate school experience as a first-generation college student, and appreciate your financial support of higher education, wherever it is directed.

As someone who toils at an AAU campus but one that is public and not especially well-endowed financially, and as one who is contributing a fair bit monetarily to the education of several students, I happen to be well aware of the increasing burden of tuition, especially with higher education constituting an almost ever-declining share of state budgets (at least in the state where I work, I am certain of this). I know that most students where I work will not get the sweet deal that upper middle class students at Harvard and Yale and such are going to get thanks to the whininess of the likes of Lynne Munson (of CCAP) and our esteemed blogger, plus the willingness of a few senators in Congress to bludgeon those rich schools. Perhaps Congress will do for their financial stability what it has done to the finances of the nation. Actually, I think Harvard Yale et al. are laughing uproariously behind our backs, because they have been given the perfect opportunity, at small cost to themselves, to hog even more of the best students, and get plaudits rather than oppobrium for their coup.

I'm also aware, unlike our esteemed economist, of the reasons why college costs are likely to grow faster than the oafish formula "population + inflation". They can be summarized under the rubric "It's growing prosperity, stupid". What to do about tuition that inevitably is going to grow faster than the average family's disposable income is an interesting question. It's too bad that some of the most vicious of what passes for conservative criticism has latched onto this issue, as here.

Mad Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Sciencedoc, I certainly agree with you that spiraling higher education costs are a serious problem, particularly as they relate to our public universities.

My problem with Vedder is that this problem along with anything else he can grasp (billion dollar endowments, research, faculty salaries, intercollegiate athletics) are not treated as serious issues in and of themselves but are merely straw men to be set up and knocked down for his true ultimate aim--the ending of public higher education as we know it.

I'm also worried about the spiraling arms race for faculty and top students in the context of the massive endowments that a few private universities have amassed. My undergraduate alma mater has a 2 billion dollar endowment and is about to kick off a 2.5 billion dollar campaign, yet I only see the gap growing between it and the privates it competes with for faculty and research primarily but also for the top quarter of its undergraduate student body. Even my graduate alma mater (Chicago) with a 5+ billion dollar endowment has had issues of faculty retention in recent years. Does this concern me? Yes. Has it put me off the deep end to demand that the federal tax code be used to "enforce institutional equality" between those universities and my favored institutions? Absolutely not. I find the idea equally as abhorrent as I do Vedder's demands that my alma mater's financial resources be penalized down to OU's level.

sciencedoc said...

Chris, you are very astute about the financial problems facing the public universities (and most of the privates) in competing with the best-endowed private universities. Yes, even the great University of Chicago, which hasn't done that great in its finances, is struggling to compete with the heavily-endowed and/or West-Coast blessed universities.

I'm not sure there is an answer except for the people who care about the public universities to step up to the plate and give much more generously to them. They have to stop thinking that it's the responsibility of the legislatures to pay for the basic educational/personnel costs. Because the legislatures are not going to do that to the extent needed to keep the best of the public universities competitive with the best of the privates.

Berkeley, which has been at the top of the public heap, and arguably has been the greatest university in the world for much of the past few decades, seems to be doing fairly well in this regard, they keep growing endowment funds for faculty excellence.

I don't know if the likes of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin etc. will be able to come up with what it will take.

Places like UCSD and Sanata Barbara will be blessed with California, no matter what.

Mad Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Your both full of shit.

Perhaps, Fredo. At least, we know the difference between "your" and "you're."

Mad Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mad Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.